Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games
The fourth installment of this year’s series looking back at classic games between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back to 2012.
The previous season had seen a complete restoration of Michigan pride, with one notable exception. Brady Hoke was indoctrinated as the head coach by renewing an old Michigan tradition: Michigan lost to Michigan State in Hoke’s first year, just as the Wolverines had lost to the Spartans in Bo Schembechler’s first year.
The 2012 campaign proved to be considerably more challenging than 2011 for Michigan. The Wolverines dropped early games to Alabama and Notre Dame, and some of the luster from the previous season seemed to have faded. The grudge match against Michigan State proved to be just the tonic for the Wolverines.
Once the game began, it quickly took on the character of many clashes between Michigan and Michigan State, evolving into a hard-hitting, low-scoring affair. There were plenty of offensive theatrics, but they produced few points. On this day, the Wolverines relied heavily on the dependable feet of their kickers, and they delivered in the clutch.
Michigan trailed by a point as the fourth quarter began, but Brendan Gibbons promptly erased that deficit with a 21-yard field goal. The lead didn’t last long, as Michigan State drove deep into Wolverine territory before the Michigan defense forced a Dan Conroy field goal.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson responded with a 43-yard run to the Michigan State 32-yard line, but once again, a Wolverines’ drive was thwarted. A valiant effort by the Michigan defense gave the Wolverines one final shot at victory.
Robinson then led the Michigan offense on a courageous drive, battling a feisty Michigan State defense every step of the way. With just five seconds remaining, Gibbons battled a tough angle to kick a 39-yard field goal, giving Michigan a 12-10 win.
Michigan’s powerful offense never hit its stride in this game, a testament to the hard-hitting Michigan State defense. It’s fitting that this classic, defensive-oriented affair was the 900th victory in Michigan football history.
Thanks to ESPN, the Big Ten Network, YouTube and YouTube poster WolverineDevotee for the highlight film of this game. As always, I own and do not profit from this blog post in any way.
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